Chairman Menendez on Dissident Crackdown in Cuba and Hillary Clinton

Friday, June 13, 2014
Chairman Menendez Statement on Suppression in Cuba, Arrests of Pro-Democracy Protestors

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding oppression in Cuba and the arrests of pro-democracy protestors this week:

The Castro regime’s enduring resolve to suppress the Cuban people’s aspirations for an open and democratic society was on full display in Cuba this week. Dozens of activists and members of the political opposition were brutally beaten by Cuban security forces and thrown in jail for nothing more than protesting peacefully. Among those who suffered the indignity of physical abuse was the head of the Ladies in White, Berta Soler, a peaceful democracy activist who recently met with President Obama, Vice President Biden and members of Congress in Washington. This recent wave of oppression is part of the Communist regime’s decades-long policy of denying the Cuban people’s demands for basic rights and fundamental freedoms.

I am troubled by calls from former Secretary Clinton and others in this country to normalize relations with Cuba without any recognition of the total lack of human rights on the island and the violent suppression of the Cuban people. It is exactly the wrong message to send the Castro regime.  Proposing to end the embargo unconditionally will only embolden a regime that has not held one free election, that has not permitted one legitimate trade union to be organized, that has not allowed one Cuban citizen to fully own their own company, and that recently was caught sending weapons to Communist North Korea.

This week's wave of arrests of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Cuba should be a call to leaders in this country to stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for basic human rights and human dignity, not with the Castro regime.  We should not normalize relations and reward a regime that rules by fear and oppression.